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Security Researchers Find a Way to Hack Cars


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A panicking driver.

Two security researchers have developed a new method of hacking into and controlling vehicles.

Credit: overcomefearofdriving.org

After two years of labor, security researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek plan to demonstrate a method to hack into and control hundreds of thousands of vehicles at the annual Black Hat and Def Con hacking conferences in August.

They used the Internet to monitor cars by their location, determine their rates of speed, turn their blinkers and lights on and off, and manipulate their windshield wipers, radios, navigation, and, in some instances, control brakes and steering.

An earlier technique in which Miller and Valasek controlled certain vehicles' steering and speed by plugging into a diagnostic port was of little use to automakers.

The researchers tinkered with a Jeep equipped with a car stereo head unit that linked to the Internet via a hardware chip that provides a wireless and a cellular network connection. A defect in the chip enabled Miller and Valasek to scan the Internet for affected vehicles, break into the car stereo head unit, and run their own code. They followed this with a successful hack into another chip in the same head unit that controlled the vehicle's electronics, and they found any car with the same head unit was hackable.

Their research will likely be an initial discovery into vulnerabilities and attacks targeting the Internet of Things.

From The New York Times
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